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2019-2020 Cuts by Province

There has been a significant amount of bad information circulating via government press releases and in the Ontario Press.  For up to date information as it pertains to BMPL we encourage you to visit this page as we discuss the future of ILLO services at BMPL. We have designed this page to provide up to date information and an accurate historical record of the 2019 cuts and how it impacted libraries, and directly impacted BMPL.

The program was scheduled to be suspended April 18-June 1 while the Minister and SOLS determined how to provide services on the drastically reduced budget, the announcement by the Minister, MPPs and press that the program went live on June 1 is not correct.  As of June 7th, BMPL was one of 90 libraries formerly on the SOLS delivery route who had not yet gone live. Previously we were fully funded for delivery of materials through the SOLS route. We will now receive only a portion of that in reimbursements. Further, those reimbursements:

  1. will not be realized until 2020, meaning any costs must be fully absorbed into the 2019 budget
  2. can not be projected, as the reimbursement will be a proration of the amount of materials BMPL uses from total SOLS region usage. 

Based on previous usage and the budget approved by the Minister to SOLS, $340,000 will be split between all SOLS libraries for ILLO costs. Last year there were 420,000 ILLO transported via SOLS routes which are now all considered for reimbursement. This is a potential $0.809 reimbursement per book. The book rate starts at $1.38 but due to weight and location, the average book cost for BMPL is $1.98. We must also purchase single use plastic bubble wrapped envelopes to transport the materials in, which is a new cost to delivery. With 4,014 materials moved via ILLO last year, this is a significant cost we do not have in the 2019 budget. 

The Board participated in the June 13th Information Session and Consultation and received a report by the CEO at the June 20, 2019 meeting. They agreed with the CEO's plan to reinstate the program on July 3rd as a pilot with additional administrative restrictions.

Thank you to those who provided feedback, completed our survey, or attended the Information Session on June 13. 

The Blue Mountains Public Library (BMPL) Board is very disappointed to learn of the cuts by the provincial government to the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) and Ontario Library Service-North (OLS-N). With a slash in their provincial budget by more than 50% there have been immediate impacts to the library users throughout Ontario, including here. The first announcement by SOLS was the suspension of the Interlibrary Loan Ontario (ILLO) service. The loss of ILLO will profoundly impact BMPLs service level as we receive 4,041 materials annually through this program. As of the Thursday, April 18thannouncement we have recalled 150 ILLOs which were in the hands of our readers and fear the costs for mailing unreturned items following the end of SOLS delivery service when SOLS will lay-off their 24 drivers.

Indirectly, the loss of ILLO also impacts our book clubs which we are no longer able to support. We have always counted on ILLO to service these programs as we cannot supply the multiple copies of a book through our own collections.  This is a direct impact to 15 book clubs with over 150 members and 1,800 materials annually.

BMPL receive services from the Ontario Library Service-North (OLS-N), which was also cut by the province at over 50%. Direct impact to our community will be the loss of a portion of our DVD, large print, and print books, which were all in the provincial pool rotation. Additionally, the support to the online catalogue is now only provided by OLS-N during weekday business hours, meaning if the system goes down on the weekend library service will be limited, including our ability to circulate materials both onsite and through electronic systems such as Libby, Overdrive, and Hoopla.

SOLS is also the responsible agency for supporting our connectivity expenses, e-resources, audio/e-books, and training for the library board and staff. OLS-N manages the provincial catalogue which 118 of the 227 libraries in Ontario, including BMPL, participate. The province created SOLS and OLS-N as agencies to ensure efficient, equitable access to resource sharing which helps us stretch every dollar for many decades now. This need has not lessened over the years, but rather, has become an entrenched function of the Ontario public libraries.

We have seen similar cuts to libraries in recent history. The Newfoundland / Labrador and Saskatchewan budget cuts of 2016 and 2017 respectively were both overturned when the public outcry reverberated through the halls of parliament. Your library board and staff hope that you will act by informing the Hon. Michael Tibollo, the Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson, and the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP, Bill Walker that these cuts must be reversed. For Ontario to be a successful province, Our Public Libraries must be Open for Business! 

BMPL sent a letter to Minister Tibollo on April 24th and on April 29th received a cc'd letter from MPP Jim Wilson directed to the Minister.  

The following response was provided by MPP Jim Wilson pertaining to this matter:

Response from Minister Tibollo:

Despite reports in the media, our government is maintaining base funding for our libraries across the province.

It’s also important to note that the library services organizations’ budget is not being cut by 50%. We are proposing a reduction of the government’s contribution to the library services, not their entire budget.

One area where there should be efficiencies found is the running of an inter-library loan and delivery program. While the concept is admirable, couriering books on demand by vans between different library boards across Southern and Northern Ontario is actually slow, inefficient, environmentally unfriendly, and expensive, now that digital resources are available.

This has no involvement in the day-to-day operations of Ontario’s public libraries.

We recognize that libraries are important to local and remote communities, and they provide valuable opportunities to learn and share in Ontario’s diverse culture.

We have offered and continue to look forward to work collaboratively with the library services organizations to identify ways to ensure programs and services continue to operate efficiently.

On May 31st the Minister announced that the ILLO system had been restored. In fact, the online catalogue which handles the requests was always slated to return to active duty on June 1st  Unfortunately, the Ministry did not refund the delivery service or mail costs associated with the program. MPP Lisa Thompson of Huron-Bruce put out a press release commending the Ministry for reinstating the program with no new funds stating, "The Ministry Tourism Culture, and Sport, the Southern Ontario Library Service, and Ontario Library Service-North have identified opportunities to modernize and find efficiencies from within their operations without affecting frontline library services. Additional funding has not been provided to either organization - their budgets remain the same as original provided in the 2019 budget". Obviously the Ministry and MPPs who are providing such statements are unaware that most libraries, such as BMPL, will not be going live on June 1 due to no funding for the transport of the materials.

"Inter-Library Loan Program Restored" 
[KINCARDINE] - Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson is happy to announce that after extensive consultation work, library users will continue to enjoy the same level of service as they have come to expect at their local libraries including the reinstatement of the inter-library loan program.

The Ministry Tourism Culture, and Sport, the Southern Ontario Library Service, and Ontario Library Service-North have identified opportunities to modernize and find efficiencies from within their operations without affecting frontline library services.  Additional funding has not been provided to either organization - their budgets remain the same as original provided in the 2019 budget.

"I know how important this service is to rural residents and to my constituents," Thompson said. She added that she made sure responses, regarding the value of local library services, she had received at her local constituency offices were shared appropriately.

"This is good news," Thompson added. "Local access to a wide variety of literature will continue to be available across the riding," she concluded.

Media Contact: John McPhee


Federation of Ontario Public Libraries (FOPL)
Details and Frontline Impact for Public Libraries and Patrons

As many of you are now aware, SOLS and OLS-North recently announced a resumption of interlibrary loan services in Ontario following extensive discussion with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

As outlined in an earlier update, this year’s Ontario budget maintains provincial operating funding for public libraries at existing levels. The Federation of Ontario Public Libraries appreciates the Ontario government’s commitment to maintaining this investment in local public libraries and its recognition of the essential role they play in communities across the province. Our collective efforts to engage with local MPPs and educate them about the enormous contributions public libraries deliver to the people of our communities was invaluable in demonstrating the need to protect what matters most amidst the government’s fiscal mandate.

However, the Ontario budget also included reductions to SOLS and OLS-North’s 2019/2020 budget allocations. FOPL, alongside the Ontario Library Association, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that Minister Tibollo, his office and our counterparts at the Ministry were aware of the frontline impacts that these reductions would have across Ontario, particularly outside major urban centres.

The voice in support of libraries was heard across the province. We are encouraged that the province re-engaged with SOLS and OLS-N to ensure that critical, frontline library services would continue.

However, the funding reductions to Ontario’s library services agencies have not changed, and with the reduced SOLS and OLS-N budgets we can expect that public libraries will have less access to important, cost-effective, centralized library services they depend on. We will continue to keep you informed as SOLS and OLS-North adjust their operations.

Although interlibrary loan services are resuming, SOLS is shifting to a different model that relies upon the Canada Post library materials postage rate, with a partial provincial subsidy that is roughly equivalent to the approach used by OLS-North to serve northern libraries. In addition to this subsidy, SOLS will also maintain the software service.

This change puts Ontario out of step with other Canadian provinces, most of which fully subsidize interlibrary loan in recognition of the important role it plays in ensuring equity of access and cost-effectiveness for public libraries in small, rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

It is accurate to characterize the resumption of interlibrary loan as a partial restoration. Here are the facts:

  • By moving to the Canada Post library materials rate model, public libraries now:
    • Will have to manage the interlibrary loan workload with the same staff, since they now must weigh, measure, and package each loan separately, use two different unconnected systems, and in some circumstances, deliver the loan to the local post office.
    • Incur the costs of packaging, stamps, etc. in anticipation of receiving a partial subsidy at the end of the year.
    • As interlibrary loan is required by legislation to be at no charge to patrons, there is no opportunity to offset these additional costs without using additional funds (such as from collections).
  • In 2017, the 441,683 interlibrary loans in Ontario would have cost $940,484 at the 2017 postage rates.
    • With special contracts, SOLS was able to do this cost effectively.
    • The proposed new subsidy is capped at $340,000 in southern Ontario and $21,000 in Northern Ontario.
    • Thus, the partial provincial subsidy for the postage rate would amount to approximately 40% of the full cost of fulfilling these interlibrary loans.
  • Municipal budgets are already set and approved. As this change came mid-fiscal year, it must be accommodated with the current limited budgets and staff.

We anticipate that most public libraries will need to carefully manage inter-library loan requests, which will have an impact on the number that can be fulfilled, both for individual patrons and the library as a whole. People will no longer be able to rely on the robust interlibrary loan services they have enjoyed for decades.

FOPL is committed to continuing its active dialogue with the Minister and Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to encourage the government to consider investments that will ensure that Ontario’s small town, county, indigenous, francophone, northern, rural and remote library users have the equitable access they need.

On a personal note, it has been helpful to receive the first-hand experiences that many of you have shared about the impact of interlibrary loan in your communities. We’ve heard from students, book clubs, entrepreneurs, business owners, researchers, and residents everywhere in Ontario. Perhaps none have so effectively demonstrated how this foundational service has the power to change lives as this experience shared by Sheri Mishibinijima at Wikwemikong First Nation Public Library, which I’m proud to share:

"I had the pleasure of assisting a concerned parent of a Grade 2 student. The student was not reading at the grade level. This parent comes to the library for assistance, and the library did not have the leveled reading books on shelf. We suggested Interlibrary Loan and the parent says “what is that?” We explained that this is a free service where the library borrows from another lending library at no cost to the First Nation library nor parent. In the end, the student received an abundance of books to assist with the jump start to their reading level. In the end, this one student received 15 books from 15 libraries north and south that assisted her in reading! If this service is not available, and recognizing the book budget that the First Nations do not have, this is going to be a sad case for children who will not be able to meet the expectation of reading level at any grade.”

On June 7 all constituent libraries and those who wrote to the MPPs received a letter.  BMPL wrote to both our MPP (independent) and the Grey Bruce MPP Bill Walker in April.  The email received and the response is below.

Email Received from MPP Bill Walker (Grey Bruce) June 7

June 4, 2019

Dear Friends,

I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody who wrote to me in recent weeks with your thoughts about the future of the interlibrary loan program.

I’m very pleased to announce that effective June 1, 2019 the loan service was restored across Ontario after library service organizations identified opportunities to modernize and find efficiencies within their operations, as was originally planned. I’m happy to see that with further consideration a solution was found by all the parties.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Tibollo made the announcement last week after his ministry held consultations with South Ontario Library Service (SOLS) and the Ontario Library Service – North (OLS-N).

It was very gratifying to see a solution reached to restore the inter-library loan program. I want to offer my praise to the collaborative efforts of Minister Tibollo, his staff, SOLS and OLS-N that resulted in a resolution restoring the service, ensuring it continues to reach communities in Bruce, Grey and all across Ontario.

The consultations between the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, SOLS and OLS-N resulted in the following:

·         OLS-N and SOLS identified opportunities to modernize and find efficiencies within their operations.

·         None of the efficiencies affect front line service to customers – library users will continue to enjoy the same level of service as they have come to expect at their local libraries.

·         No additional funding has been provided to either organizations – budgets remain the same as originally provided in the 2019 budget.

·         The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport continues to maintain base funding for public libraries at $25 million per year.

I appreciate hearing from everybody about this important program and I’m thrilled the parties involved were able to work out this solution.

Thank you,
Bill Walker, MPP
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound


Response by Dr Saunders, CEO June 8

MPP Walker,

Thank you for your letter.  Unfortunately, the reinstatement was always planned for June 1, with the announcement by SOLS that the system would be suspended from April 18-May 31th.  However, without the delivery service or 100% reimbursement of shipping, 90 of the 190 SOLS libraries previously on the SOLS route have not been able to open the program to our communities and remain suspended at this time.  The Town of the Blue Mountains is currently working with the community, our Board and Council and have identified that nearly $4,000 would be required for this program, based on our previous year’s activities.

SOLS will provide partial reimbursements from the $340,000 allotment, but with 420,000 ILLO last year, and the average cost of our materials being $1.99 (based on weight and distance at the Canadian Book Rate), that leaves us with $1.18 per book shortfall.  Additionally, we are required to ship these by Canada Post standards which means we are required to purchase bubble wrapped enveloped which are another cost not previously realized on the program as we were not using single use plastics for shipping, but cloth reusable bags.

Further, this unknown reimbursement is slated to occur in early 2020, which means it can not be budgeted into the 2019 fiscal for our library, being that it is an unknown amount and therefore does not qualify as an accrual grant.

So while you, your fellow MPPs, and the Minister believe a success has been had, we are all trying to find a way to bring services to a normal standard across the province without the supports previously available to us.

Dr. Sabrina ER Saunders, CEO
Blue Mountains Public Library

A survey was available in early June on preferences by the community for ILLO reinstatement and funding.  41 surveys were completed by the June 13th information session and consultation event.  More have been received since.  27 members of the public, plus board and staff were onsite for the community consultation of June 13. At this session options were presented by the CEO and suggestions were received.  These have since been presented in a report to the Board which were discussed at the June 20th meeting.  

The Library Board received a report at the June 20, 2019 Board Meeting which updated the Board and community on the ILLO situation and options for reinstatement. Ultimately the CEO explained that there would not be a request for additional funds from the Town, nor would we actively cut from other areas. Efficiencies would be found in small amounts across the overall budget, as well as having administrative changes to the program.  These include the following:

  1. A limit to materials is now 3 items in a month. Additionally, we will not be bringing in any DVD or fragile materials which can not be shipped well via Canada Post.

  2. Book Clubs will no longer be able to request book club sets for their readers.  Instead, each user interested in receiving a copy of the book for a book club will be required to request these materials on their own account.  This change is again to offset the need for materials which are not used.  

  3. While we may not charge fees for ILLO according to the PLA, we can charge fines for those who do not follow the policies and procedures of BMPL.  Part of the 2019 Fees and Fine Structure which began on June 1 is a $5 fee for any ILLO materials which are requested, but not retrieved within one week.  This fine will assist in offsetting the costs of materials shipping, but more importantly, will limit the number of unnecessary ILLO requests. The fine for late ILLOs has also increased to $1.00 per day.  This is the same rate we have in place for other special materials such as DVDs.

  4. Given the need to ship through Canada Post we will not be able to inform a requester of a tentative date for arrival. We do anticipate this method of delivery being slower than the previous delivery service as it is a discounted rate of postage.

  5. As a result of the slower Canada Book Rate delivery, we will be monitoring the length of loans and may need to shorten them down from 5 weeks without renewal.  This decision will be made at the end of summer once we have had the system running for al least 2 months and established a baseline.

There is a chance this pilot will not make the full 2019, based on cost. We have identified a set amount of funds and will do all we can to bring in all the items requested without going over budget. Donations are welcome. Any donation over $25 qualifies for an Official Tax Receipt.

What can you do?

You may also consider writing to the Minister of Tourism Culture & Sport, Premier, or your MPPs.

Hon. Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport.
6th Flr, 438 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5G 2K8 416-326-9326  

Doug Ford, Premier of
Legislative Building. Queen's Park. Toronto ON M7A 1A1 416-325-1941

Jim Wilson, MPP. Simcoe-Grey.
50 Hume St. Collingwood, ON L9Y 1V2 705-446-1090

Bill Walker, MPP. Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.
920 1st Avenue West, Suite 100. Owen Sound, ON N4K 4K5 519-371-2421

FAQ Document

This FAQ document was prepared to answer some questions about what SOLS and OLS-N do for BMPL and how this cut will impact our community.

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